Hidden Talents That Warmed Our Hearts at the VCS Winter Carnival Student Showcase

Finding yourself among the facets of people that aren’t exposed on a day-to-day basis is fascinating. We’ve all seen those videos titled something like “Subway Man Crushes It With Stevie Wonder Cover,” and every time we smile. It’s the art of being shown something that you weren’t expecting.

What’s interesting is that I’ve noticed myself having that same reaction, one of happy surprise upon enjoying hidden talent, at the handful of Village Club Series (VCS) Student Showcases I’ve attended. This Winter Carnival Showcase was no different. What’s even better about this event than some random video online is that you get to meet and interact with these performers on a daily basis. They’re your classmates, hallmates and all other things-mate, and getting to see them grace the stage is really special.

The through-line that defined this VCS Student Showcase for me was the incredibly diverse performance styles with no awkwardness in between each one. Sometimes when differing styles are presented, there can be a clash of what the listener hears. That was assuredly not the case here.

After a good helping of VCS signature hot cider and cookies, Cristina Salazar ‘25 opened with a delicate mix of songs sung in Spanish: one piece had an instrumental backing, and the other was a cappella. She said she came up to the stage feeling nervous, but then added, “You gotta do stuff to get you going.” Simple yet effective, I hope everyone in the crowd took her message to heart for the end of that week.

As Salazar passed the baton to Gianluca Yornet ‘24, what ensued was the neatest procession of three differing acts I’ve seen at a live show. Yornet’s set consisted of vulnerable and well-written poetry. Then, Owen Fox-Whelpton ‘25 stepped up to the plate with his guitar and an appreciative outlook as he extensively thanked the VCS staff for making the showcase happen, which was a touching moment.

When he later revealed that he had an album out, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. When it comes to stage presence, Fox-Whelpton is as confident as they come, and he has the musical ability to back it up, too. My personal favorite was his rendition of “Ganja Baby.” The twang in his voice is gritty and persistent, and the tune was remarkably catchy. He left me hoping that his cover of the hit would be on his next album.

As Fox-Whelpton departed, Uche Anyanwu ‘25, professionally known as Uche the Chomp Man, sauntered up to the stage to deliver energetic trap bangers, all of which were seemingly written by him. His presence was great — it didn’t matter that he forgot some of his lyrics because everyone was feeling his energy. Keep an eye on this man’s SoundCloud.

It was at this point in the show where the audience was able to experience the more “band” side of the performances.

Before a group led by Oliver Todreas ‘23 seized the stage, Jakob Adler ‘24 gave us a fantastic solo appetizer. Like many transitions between acts, Adler took it in a very different direction from Uche, but it greeted listeners’ ears with ease.

His original piece, “Sol Etude,” from his recently released EP, was exceptionally unique. I — and many others in the audience — found it delightful for a variety of reasons. The song was this slow, meditative track with these very alietnating chords. After a bit of instrumentation, Adler’s vocals came in and matched the ponderous feel of what was being played.

All was silent in the crowd as these somewhat strained vocals gelled with his delicate chords. As I sat and listened, I felt that Adler’s music perfectly portrayed solitude and loneliness. Being from the West, his music took me right back to many drives I’ve taken in the desert late at night. His sparse chords and vocals excellently depicted the sensation you experience when you’re outside and your body greets the sharp nighttime breeze.

As Adler wrapped up, the two bands of the night stepped up to the stage to rock the audience’s socks off. Todreas’ band took the energy to great levels, leaving all of us who were sitting wishing that we could get up and start grooving. Thankfully, when Hot Faucet, the final group, took to the stage, a much-needed announcement from Alex Platt ‘23 called for audience members to experience the group’s set on their feet. Platt’s wish was enthusiastically responded to by the audience; unfortunately, the VCS crew had to make a mid-set plea for everyone to chill out and return to their seated area. Bummer. Turns out that whatever was coming out of that faucet was a little too hot for the night’s vibes.

Whether you attended or not, the Winter Carnival Student Showcase was joyous and festive. If I were to distill all my reasons to attend a VCS Showcase into one, succinct sentence, it would be: Think about how enriched your life would be if you discovered how that one kid you never really talked to in your 8:00 a.m. class was actually an incredible singer.